New Song: “You’re No Santa”

New Song: “You’re No Santa”

    Hey, all: I hope you’re doing all right. Got a holiday song here for you—an extraordinary effort in extraordinary times, and I would like to thank Jamie Siegel, Matt Beck, and Matt Rubano for their help and virtual musicianship. I consider this the Mike Errico Holiday Show for 2020. Two questions you probably have: 1) Why no livestream holiday show? Good question. Answer: The idea of me sitting in a room and you sitting in another, maybe thousands of miles away, is “OK,”  but it’s not the same. Trying to simulate what I love also reminds me of what’s not possible at this moment, and I figured, why give a simulation of one thing, when I can give a real version of something else? So. Tada. And if I think of a livestream show that relates to the medium itself, and isn’t just “good enough for people on distant couches,” I’m in, and I’m taking suggestions. 2) HOLIDAY OMENS?!? I LIVE MY LIFE ACCORDING TO THEIR TEACHINGS!11!!! I know, I know. I do, too. And they spoke to me this year. They said: HERE’S THE PLAN. “YOU’RE NO SANTA” IS AVAILABLE EXCLUSIVELY ON BANDCAMP AS “NAME YOUR OWN PRICE.” THOSE WHO HEAR THE OMENS’ CALL SHOULD CONTRIBUTE ANY AMOUNT IN EXCESS OF SHIPPING (MIN. $7), AND INCLUDE THEIR SNAIL MAIL ADDRESS IN THE “NOTES” FIELD WHEN PURCHASING. THUS, THE OMEN CAN CONTINUE ITS JOURNEY AND DELIVER ITS SOLEMN MESSAGE. Omens tend to speak in all caps. Not sure why. But anyway: I miss you guys, and hope you’re well, and hope you enjoy “You’re No Santa.” I...
Rest in Power, Arecibo Observatory

Rest in Power, Arecibo Observatory

A couple of snapped cables, and the world’s largest radio telescope is being decommissioned. If you know me, you know my love of the Carl Sagan (@saganism ) book Contact and the 1996 film starring Jodi Foster and the Arecibo Observatory (@thearecibo.observatory). My songs “Ok to Go,” “Grace,” “Arecibo,” and others were inspired by it. So much of the artwork on my albums “Skimming,” “Wander Away,” and especially “Minor Fits” draw from it. Here’s my Spotify playlist of my songs that were inspired by Contact, and Arecibo. A few years back, I dragged friends across the crazy bumpy roads of Puerto Rico to see Arecibo, and now I’m glad I did. And I’m glad I sprung for the coffee cup. Time marches on…and bends and warps and amazes.  ...
Songwriting Prompt No. 5: …is not a prompt

Songwriting Prompt No. 5: …is not a prompt

Songwriting Prompt No. 5: Not a prompt, just an observation: Some of the “demos” you’ve decided to release during this time rank among your best work, in my opinion. In fact, some of these “demos” are suspicious—suspiciously awesome, and suspiciously ambitious. Don’t forget, I listen to a lot of demos, and these? These are not demos. They aren’t Voice Notes of you on the side of your bed with your inconsiderate roommate washing frying pans in a nearby sink. They get me wondering: Are these “demos” really songs you wanted to put out but didn’t because you felt they were “off-brand?” Does it take a pandemic for you to admit that MAYBE you don’t know what your brand is? Or better: that your brand is YOU and you’ve been amputating parts of yourself in order to appear orderly? Because that’s nuts. Are you slapping the word “demo” on a track as if it’s a “might delete later” post, or an admission you’ll be able to deny? Well, fine. If that helps for now, knock yourselves out. But know that the sharing you’re doing is not only helping others, it’s maybe helping you to widen your definition of yourself. So keep on doing it. And what a great opportunity to retire two jerseys to the dust bin of your personal histories: #0 “DEMO;” #00 “BRAND”...
Songwriting Prompt Four: Shhh

Songwriting Prompt Four: Shhh

Songwriting Prompt Four: Shhh You’ve heard that “music is the universal language.” That’s false. Music has never done the job of being universal, and in fact, it does the opposite. It groups subsections of people together; it accessorizes a particular aesthetic; it excludes. Writers antagonize each other via dis tracks. High schools have battles of the bands. TV networks pit musicians against each other in competition shows where contestants try to…what? Out-music one another? So, what is universal? Silence. It’s our resting state. It’s a consensual act that can be broken by any individual. Silence is where we came from, and it’s where we’re going. How does this apply to songwriting? 1) What almost always improves work is editing, which means the elimination of parts of the song. More silence. 2) Feedback like “your song is so short” can be seen as a compliment—the listener wanted more!—whereas “your song is so long” is never good. Ever. Why? Because it implies you left in stuff that did not improve upon silence. So: If you don’t have something to say that improves on silence, don’t say it. Revise by adding silence. Produce by framing silence. Write by writing as little as possible. Consider that maybe we already have it all, and that our real job is to lose as little of it as...
Songwriting Prompt Three: Kick the Bucket

Songwriting Prompt Three: Kick the Bucket

Songwriting Prompt Three: Kick the Bucket Genre is a method of file management. It’s marketing. It’s not writing. And yet, you might think of yourself as a specialist in one, to the exclusion of others. You may have conjured a barbed wire fence that separates “pop” and “R&B” in your mind. By now, you’ve even adapted to the surrealism of Spotify’s utility-based playlisting, and see yourself more as “Morning Coffeehouse,” but probably not “Evening Coffeehouse.” You’ve been trained to find your lane. Your brand. That word, “brand”—it makes you sound like you’re expressing a personal style, but are you? Or are you expressing the bucket you hope to be dropped into? I mean, let’s be honest: Getting on “Morning Coffeehouse” or “Caviar Bedtime Toothbrushing Ritual” or whatever means you go from >1000 streams to 500k overnight. So what do you do? You write for the bucket. The bucket starts writing your songs. Is the bucket writing your songs? The most maligned track I’ve ever played in class, by a long stretch, is “Meant to Be,” by Bebe Rexha and Florida Georgia Line. The song spent a year on the charts, but that did not impress. Together, we watched the video through tears of laughter: she’d never work in a roadside diner; she’d never hitchhike in four pounds of makeup; she’d never hitchhike anywhere, ever. She’d ping an Uber or summon her helicopter, and poof. End of country-pop nightmare. Consider this: Bebe was down for the challenge of writing outside her pop specialty, and Florida Georgia Line pulled from outside of their country specialty. It’s almost as if “specialization” is...